The Fresh Loaf

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Variance of the crumb

Uplander's picture

Variance of the crumb

I am using an entry-level Panasonic (SD-B2510) and following some experimentation I now get a loaf that I am largely satisfied with.  However, one aspect rankles - a variation of density between the bottom of the loaf and the top; the bottom quarter of the crumb is the most dense, the top quarter is the lightest, the middle 50% is somewhere in between.

Over a period of time I have tried different flours and have varied the amounts of all the other ingredients; I am now largely happy with the loaves and do not particularly want to change the recipe.  I should add that on my machine it is not possible to make adjustments to individual timings (proving, baking etc).  As a final thought, I see no point in having a bread maker and then having to manually intervene along the way!

So ... I just wondered whether anyone could guide me on whether the variance of the crumb is down to the limitations of bread machines in general, something specific to the bread maker I am using or something else that I am / am not doing?

Any thoughts appreciated.

PS In case somebody is kind enough to post and asks, this is my recipe:

½ teaspoon yeast
600g organic bread flour (50% wholemeal / 50% white)
450g water @ room temp (this includes juice of half a lemon)
1½ teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon olive oil
Setting (menu) 5 - this takes 5 hours

Moe C's picture
Moe C

I was going to link you to a 2023 thread on the same subject until I realized it was your thread. A year later, same problem.

In the list of ingredients, is 1/2tsp yeast correct? That is very low for 600g of flour.

On this thread,, you seemed to be getting a loaf that didn't have the density problem--the opposite, too light and fluffy. I'm wondering if the machine could be at fault when it was able to bake this loaf ok?

Uplander's picture

Firstly and to fess up, I had completely forgotten that post - I think this is an age thing as I do seem to forget things.  It was creeping age issues that forced me to buy a bread machine.

I keep copious notes and have done much experimenting - looking at the dates clearly some was inspired by the thoughts people kindly offered. I would say this loaf is as good as I have been able to produce and it isn't so much dense in the middle (as was the case then), rather it varies from top to bottom.

The half teaspoon is what I use - any more and the loaf gets bigger and lighter (we prefer a slightly more dense loaf) but the variance across the crumb remains even when using more yeast.

I did wonder whether this variance was "normal" for machine bread which is what inspired my question.

Anyway, thanks for the post and reminding me of the other thread! 



Abe's picture

If one final proofs in a banneton then the dough is shaped then flipped for baking. While the dough is proofing the weight will hinder the CO2 forming towards the bottom of the loaf but towards the top it'll be easier to expand. When the dough is flipped this evens it out more and allows for more expansion, from oven spring, at the top which was the denser side. 

When baking in a loaf pan it proofs and bakes the same side up. It also has less room to expand. This, I would think, make a loaf which is denser towards the bottom. It is also a large loaf in what is probably a tall pan rather than a longer pan. 

Uplander's picture

Thanks for that Abe - the way you explain it makes sense.  Notwithstanding my "put it all in the tin and leave it" attitude, I guess that if I flipped the dough immediately prior to baking then this might lessen the issue.  Food for thought.

Thank you again.


Sabina's picture

I just want to agree with Abe. Pan bread always looks like this. Here's a photo of Wonderbread, and even it has a denser layer near the bottom and along the sides, and bigger holes near the top: . Your idea of flipping the dough before the baking cycle sounds like a good one, but personally I think your bread looks fine the way it is.

Uplander's picture

Thanks for that Sabina.  I was just curious as to whether I was missing something and there is always knowledge to be found on The Fresh Loaf!